Tourist Attractions

Provincial Guide | Phnom Penh (Capital)

Phnom Penh, once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’, is the capital and largest city in Cambodia. It is now a cultural, commercial, and political center that offers a unique blend of traditional charm and urban bustle.

Today, Phnom Penh is a place of diverse economic and urban growth. A swift wave of development has brought in new highrise buildings--including a 30-storey business center--restaurants catering to every palate, and stylish

hotels promising all levels of luxury. Contributing to this development are burgeoning culinary and nightlife scenes that can rival any other in the region.
The alluring capital city also features a wide variety of historical and cultural attractions, along with myriad opportunities to sample local Cambodian culture. Here, classic colonial facades endure alongside sleek new eateries, golden-spired pagodas, and buzzing markets-- all evidence of the dynamic energy of Phnom Penh's city streets. Phnom Penh's famous riverfront is lined with trendy pubs, bistros, and restaurants. Stores offering beautiful Cambodian silk products and chic galleries dot the side streets. Add to this a blooming arts scene and a heady dusk-to-dawn nightlife and you'll understand why Phnom Penh has become such a well-loved and compelling tourist destination.

Around Phnom Penh

The vibrant streets of Phnom Penh are full of colorful sights. The city possesses an exciting range of historical and cultural attractions to tout, along with countless restaurants and nightspots. For a taste of Cambodian history and royal life, visitors can tour the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda located just next to the palace grounds. A short walk away, the National Museum beckons with room after room of Khmer sculpture, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects. To get a taste of city life, visitors can walk along Sothearos Boulevard, sampling local foods and patronising a clutch of ‘antique’ shops that sell silver trays, betel boxes, belts, ancient coins, silver or wooden statuettes and famed marble carvings from the province of Poursat.

Visitors may also find it pleasant to take leisurely strolls around Phnom Penh. Boulevards peppered by elegant colonial buildings and a bustling riverfront lined with cafes and restaurants make this a truly beautiful city to see on foot.
For those interested in shopping, ‘Phsar Toul Tom Poung’ also known as Russian Market offers antique pieces, sundry sounvenir items, and factory over-run designer clothing at hugely discounted prices. Visitors who prefer air-conditioned comfort may opt to stop in the city's modern shopping complexes (Sorya Shopping Centre, Sovanna Centre and the City Mall). A sunset cruise down Phnom Penh's Tonle Sap river serves as a perfect, relaxing end to an activity-filled day. Catch the soft river breezes and watch as Cambodia's capital begins to light up and shimmer for the evening.

Region : Central  
Area : 375 Km2  
Total Districts : 8  
Total Communes : 76  

 Provincial Guide | Siem Reap

General Information

The city of Siem Reap, also the capital of the province, is a ‘must-visit’ destination for all visitors to Cambodia. This is where the glorious 12th Century Angkor Wat temple, the largest religious building in the world, is located. Situated on the northern bank of the Tonle Sap Great Lake, this mesmerizing eighth wonder of the world can be easily accessed by plane, land, and boat.

The ruins of Angkor, located in thick jungle, are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are over one thousand temples ranging in scale from nondescript piles of rubble scattered through rice fields to the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat--the best-preserved temple. 

Apart from the legacy of the vast Angkor temple complex, Siem Reap has a lot more to offer to tourists, from the spectacular floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake to the heritage site of the Kulen Mountain, to the recently discovered Koh Ker ruins.

In town, there are a bevy of ethnic craft shops, galleries, cafes, eateries and top-notch restaurants serving every type of cuisine. The famous ‘Pub Street’ and the night markets of Siem Reap are now renowned tour destinations in their own rights. Additionally, siilk farms, rice-paddy countryside, fishing villages and a very rich bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake make Siem Reap one of the most captivating places in the world. 

Angkor WatElephant Trekking at BakhengBanteay Srei TempleAngkor Thom Gate

Location 

The province of Siem Reap is conveniently situated 314 km northwest of Phnom Penh, along National Road No 6. It can be reached all year round by National Road No 6 from Phnom Penh, Poipèt Border Checkpoint from Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham Province and Kampong Thom Province, and by National Road No 5 and 6 from Kampong Chhnang province, Pursat province and Battambang province. 

How to reach Siem Reap

Siem Reap is accessible by direct flights from many major cities in the region including Bangkok, Danang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Paksé, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kunming, Taipei, etc.  From the capital of Phnom Penh, Angkor Air operates several direct flights per day to and from Siem Reap.  There are also speedboats operating along the Tonlé Sap from Phnom Penh and Battambang Province.

Ta ProhmRiver of 1000 LingasBayon TempleWay to Angkor Wat

Attractive Place

 Angkor Wat - Heritage of Humanity and World Wonder

Angkor Wat, which literally means ‘City Temple’, is a Hindu temple complex built to replicate the heavens on earth.  Constructed for King Suryavarman II in the early twelfth century, it is the best-preserved temple and is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture.

Constructed: Early – Mid 12th century C.E.
Religion: Hinduism
King/Patron: Suryavarman II
Style: Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat which literally means ‘City Temple’ is a Hindu temple complex built to replicate the heavens on earth.  Constructed for King Suryavarman II in the early twelfth century, it is the best-preserved temple and is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation; first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture.  This magnificent temple combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture; the temple mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early South Indian Hindu architecture. Constructed within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 miles) long with three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next, it is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology. 

At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west and this has scholars divided as to its significance. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture. The extensive bas-reliefs and the numerous guardian spirits adorning its walls serve as evidence of the strong Khmer religiou beliefs.

Angkor Thom Temple

Angkor Thom is a very popular tourist spot. It was established in the late twelfth century to early thirteenth century by King Jayavarman VII. This site is situated 1.7 Km north of Angkor Wat, within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors.

Constructed: Late 12th – Early 13th century C.E.
Religion: Buddhism
King/Patron: Jayavarman VII
Style: Bayon

Angkor Thom is a very popular tourist spot. It was established in the late twelfth century to early thirteenth century by King Jayavarman VII. This site is situated 1.7 Km north of Angkor Wat, within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. The fortified city of Angkor Thom, some 9sq km in extent, was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire built by Angkor’s greatest King, Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181-1201). 

Centered on Baphuon, Angkor Thom is enclosed by a square wall 8m high and 12km in length and encircled by moat 100m wide. The city has five monumental gates, one each in the north, west and south walls and two in the east wall. In front of each gate stand giant statues of 54 gods (to the left of the causeway) and 54 demons (to the right of the causeway), a motif taken from the story of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk illustrated in the famous bas-relief at Angkor Wat. In the center of the walled enclosure are the city’s most important monuments, including the Bayon, the Baphuon, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas and the Terrace of Elephants.

Bayon Temple

Bayon is a richly decorated Khmer temple built in the late twelfth century or early thirteenth century. Built at the centre of King Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom was the last state temple to be built at Angkor, and the only Angkorian state temple to be built primarily as a Mahayana Buddhist shrine dedicated to the Buddha.  Following Jayavarman’s death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance to their religious preferences. 

Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers that jut from the upper terrace and cluster around its center peak. The similarity of the 216 gigantic faces to other statues of Jayavarman VII has led many scholars to the hypothesise that the faces are representations of the king himself. Others believe that the faces belong to Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.   The temple is also popular for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes.  This is one of the many ‘must visit’ temples.

Banteay Srei Temple

Consecrated in 967 A.D, Banteay Srei was speculated to have been known earlier as Banteay Serai, which literally means the Citadel of Victory.  This was the only major temple at Angkor not built by a monarch; its construction is credited to a courtier named Yajnavaraha, who was a scholar and philanthropist and a counselor to king Rajendravarman. He was known to have helped those who suffered from illness, injustice or poverty.

Constructed: Late 10th century C.E.
Religion: Hindu (Shiva)
King/Patron: Rajendravarman
Style: Banteay Srey

Banteay Srei is built primarily in red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable in fine details today.  Measured by the standards of Angkorian construction, the buildings themselves are miniature in scale. These factors have led to its being widely praised as a ‘precious gem’, or the ‘jewel of Khmer art’ and perhaps the temple’s modern name, Banteay Srei or Citadel of Women, is probably related to the intricacy of the bas relief carvings of devatas found on the walls and the tiny dimensions of the buildings themselves.

 Phnom Bakheng

Phnom Bakheng was constructed more than two centuries before the Angkor Wat. It is a Hindu temple originally built in the form of a temple mountain dedicated to Shiva. Historians believe that Phnom Bakheng was in its heyday, the principal temple of the Angkor region.  It was the architectural centerpiece of a new capital that Yasovarman built when he moved the court from the capital Hariharalaya in the Roluos area located to the southeast.

Constructed: Late 9th – Early 10th century C.E.
Religion: Hindu (Shiva)
King/Patron: Yasovarman I
Style: Bakheng

Phnom Bakheng was constructed more than two centuries before the Angkor Wat. It is a Hindu temple originally built in the form of a temple mountain dedicated to Shiva. Historians believe that Phnom Bakheng was in its heyday, the principal temple of the Angkor region.  It was the architectural centerpiece of a new capital that Yasovarman built when he moved the court from the capital Hariharalaya in the Roluos area located to the southeast. Located atop a hill, this is the most popular tourist spot for sunset views of the much bigger Angkor Wat temple which lies amid the jungle about 1.5 km away.

 Kulen Mountain National Park

The Kulen Mountain or Phnom Kulen is declared as a National Park. It is an isolated mountain massif located in Svay Leu District and some 48km from Siem Reap. Its highest point is 487 meters. This is widely regarded as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire. During the constructional period of the ancient temples in the nineth century, sand stones were brought from this sacred mountain to Angkor.  It was here at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarman II proclaimed independence from Java in 802 A.D.

Constructed: 9th century C.E.
Religion: Hindu
King/Patron: Jayavarman II
Style: Kulen

The Kulen Mountain or Phnom Kulen is declared as a National Park. It is an isolated mountain massif located in Svay Leu District and some 48km from Siem Reap. Its highest point is 487 meters. This is widely regarded as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire. During the constructional period of the ancient temples in the nineth century, sand stones were brought from this sacred mountain to Angkor.  It was here at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarman II proclaimed independence from Java in 802 A.D. 

The site is known for its carvings representing fertility and its waters hold special significance to the people of Cambodia. Just a few inches under the surface of the water, over 1000 carvings of Yoni and Linga are etched into the sandstone riverbed. The waters are regarded as holy, given the sacred carvings which also include a stone representation of the Hindu god Vishnu lying on his serpent Ananta, with his wife Lakshmi at his feet. A lotus flower protrudes from Vishnu’s navel bearing the god Brahma. The river then ends with a beautiful waterfall.  Phnom Kulen is regarded highly by Cambodian people as a sacred location and has developed into a great tour destination.

Banteay Srei Temple

Consecrated in 967 A.D, Banteay Srei was speculated to have been known earlier as Banteay Serai, which literally means the Citadel of Victory.  This was the only major temple at Angkor not built by a monarch; its construction is credited to a courtier named Yajnavaraha, who was a scholar and philanthropist and a counselor to king Rajendravarman. He was known to have helped those who suffered from illness, injustice or poverty.

Banteay Srei is built primarily in red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable in fine details today.  Measured by the standards of Angkorian construction, the buildings themselves are miniature in scale. These factors have led to its being widely praised as a ‘precious gem’, or the ‘jewel of Khmer art’ and perhaps the temple’s modern name, Banteay Srei or Citadel of Women, is probably related to the intricacy of the bas relief carvings of devatas found on the walls and the tiny dimensions of the buildings themselves.

Constructed: Late 10th century C.E.
Religion: Hindu (Shiva)
King/Patron: Rajendravarman
Style: Banteay Srey

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